Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I was wrong about Lego: The Movie

The villain looks like Mitt Romney, and is called Lord Business. Michael Moore endorsed the movie as teaching communism. But then my Sifu, Glenn Beck, and my brother all insisted I should see the movie, and all of them are polar opposites from Michael Moore. Something was amiss. Then my niece, who is old enough to be trying to find the middle between Democrats and Republicans (psst; it’s Constitutional Libertarian), insisted I should give the movie a chance, assuring me that it’s not what I think it is.

And so I go looking for clips of the movie, and saw the Cloud Cuckoo Land sequence, which by itself seemed a brazen slap in the face to Libertarian philosophy. There’s no government, no rules, no baby sitters, no bed times… and no consistency. Outside the context of the rest of the movie this scene was quite insulting.

Finally the movie came to 3D Blu Ray, and although my sister has said she hopes to get a 3D TV one day, right now, it’s not in the cards. So my nieces will hit my wife and I up when a new 3D movie comes out that they want to see, in 3D. Apparently they got to see Lego in the theater, but unlike Godzilla, they didn't get to see it in 3D. So, because my nieces are very persuasive, I bought the Everything is Awesome edition, gave them the toy and 3D picture that it came with, and put the movie on my shelf. Then I said, “you know what? I’m going to watch this movie so that I have a rebuttal for everything the film throws at the girls.” Man I am so glad to report I was very wrong about this movie.

The film is mostly innocent, I say mostly, because it does take on micromanagement, which is great, because I hate micromanagement and micro managers, having suffered through enough myself. The best jobs I have had are the ones that set a goal for you, and then turn you loose to determine how to accomplish those said goals. As long as you accomplish those goals, they’re good! So far, I have done very well at every job I’ve had, always hitting my metrics, but only two have trusted me enough to get the job done my way, and my way works, and sometimes better than the status quo. I’m just one of those guys who always finds ways to do things faster, stronger, better. I love having bosses that trust me enough to let me do it my way. I think Lord Business was one of those managers who didn’t trust the innovation of those beneath him, so he sought to put everything in its place permanently with the powerful weapon called the Kragle, (Crazy Glue.)

One might think there’s a red message in there, but as the story progresses (spoiler alert) you learn the whole movie is a child playing with his dad’s legos, and without permission. We also learn that Lord Business isn't Mitt Romney, but literally Will Ferrell, not just that he is providing the voice, but that Lord Business is the child’s own rendition of his father, who is all business and won’t take the time to play with his son. The heroes save the day, not by over throwing capitalism, but by a son convincing his father to just play. If nothing else, there is a very strong message to all-business fathers: Take the time to play with your children, and that, my dear reader, is the pinnacle of Conservative messages. Family values=Conservative. Period.

Once Will Ferrell realizes what his son is trying to say, Lord Business switches sides and joins the heroes (including the best rendition of Bat Man since Adam West) in undoing the damage that had been done.

It’s not that the film is completely apolitical; it definitely does have some soft criticism for Ayn Randian philosophy. Cloud Coukoo Land is basically Galt’s Gulch, but it’s not that it doesn't work, (unlike Bioshock), it’s that they cannot organize, or work together well enough to defend it. As a result of the Master Builders being unwilling to set aside their minor differences and work together, the bad guys are able to destroy Cloud Coukoo Land. I agree with that criticism of our Libertarian movement. We are builders, workers, and master builders, if you will. But we are so puritanical, that the slightest deviation from Ayn Rand gets you a a sort of excommunication, followed by ritualistic dropping from Facebook Friends lists. We have got to knock that off. Once the hero, Emmitt, convinces the master builders to quit bickering and work together they get the job done. If anything, I feel like the criticism is constructive, in nature, not meant to berate or belittle us at all. I happen to believe that if we can quit bickering among ourselves, we could get our job done too and save the country. 

The Lego movie’s 3D is also exceptionally well done. It’s nice that the movie uses the pop out effect only when it is natural for it to do so, and not to absurd extremes. Little things like the Lego bullets occasionally flying off the corner of your 3D TV screen are a nice touch, but otherwise the effect is used to help build the illusion of a play set. As the characters move from play set to play set, it definitely feels like you could reach into the movie and grab individual pieces to build your own stuff! Except the movie isn't interactive…. Someday, right?

The problem is that this is one of the most expensive 3D movies I have ever purchased. I usually expect to pay between $25-30 for 3D. This time I had to pay $40. That may not be worth it for most homes. Heck, many video games can be purchased for that kind of money. I normally endorse the 3D Blu Ray packages, over the usually only slightly cheaper non 3D bundles, as the gap between the two is usually only $3-$5.00. However, this time there is a $20 gap between the Blue Ray Bundle, and the Everything is Awesome edition, and the pack in extras are not exactly worthwhile to me. While my nieces appreciated being given the Prophet toy that comes with it, I would have preferred better extras for that price. At best, the figurine is worth $2.99 and the 3D picture of Emit isn't worth the plastic it’s printed on or the cardboard stock it's affixed to. I guess if a sound track had been included, I’d be happier. Marvel and Disney have been doing that with Avengers related films. You redeem the code on I-tunes, boom, you have the Avenger’s soundtrack! But they aren't asking me for $40.00 for even that, WB is asking $40 for bonuses that don't come close to making it worthwhile.
…You didn't let me finish my review! Because I died!

While the 3D is among the best I have seen, the price tag is exceptionally high. You will have to decide for yourself if it is worth the extra $20 to get a $3.00 toy and a plastic picture. For me, I normally wouldn't do it for so few bonus items. Still, I am glad that I can recommend this movie. It is delightful, family friendly… quotable….

Anyway, go get it! Whether on DVD, Blu Ray, or 3D Blu Ray, this film will delight audiences of all ages, and apparently also of all political points of view. A 5 out of 5. 

While you're at it, be sure to pick up my book, at We all have dreams, mine is to wax philosophical for a living. Also, if this makes money, it'd be nice to pay off my student loan debt so I can correct my career path and go to Law School. Help me accomplish that here: The Great Compromise. Your patronage is very much appreciated. 

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